On the heels of its announcement that it had released to manufacturing the "Mango" Windows Phone update" -- Microsoft execs are now updating Mango developers with a near-final build.
The developer update released via the Microsoft Connect site on July 27 is Build 7712. The RTM build is believed to be 7720.The Windows Phone Dev Podcast team hinted yesterday that Microsoft might be ready to launch the 7712 build as early as today.
The big question on many developers' minds: Why not just give Mango devs the actual RTM bits? Windows Phone Senior Product Manager Cliff Simpkins provided an explanation in a new blog post on the Windows Phone Developer blog:
"For the folks wondering why we’re not providing the ‘RTM’ version, there are two main reasons. First, the phone OS and the tools are two equal parts of the developer toolkit that correspond to one another. When we took this snapshot for the refresh, we took the latest RC drops of the tools and the corresponding OS version. Second, what we are providing is a genuine release candidate build, with enough code checked in and APIs locked down that this OS is close enough to RTM that, as a developer, it’s more than capable to see you through the upcoming RC drop of the tools and app submission. It’s important to remember that until the phone and mobile operator portion of Mango is complete, you’re still using a pre-release on your retail phone – no matter the MS build. Until that time, enjoy developing and cruising around on build 7712 – it’s a sweet ride, to be sure."
Developers got their first "Beta 2" test build of Mango in late June. This refresh includes a number of updates, including locked application platform programming interfaces; a screenshot capability built into the emulator; an update to the profiler to include memory profiling; the ability to install NuGet into the free version of the Windows Phone SDK tools; and an "initial peek" at the Marketplace Test Kit.
Microsoft execs said last week that the company was planning to deliver a Release Candidate build of the Mango phone software development kit in late August. From today's post, the RC plan still seems to remain a go.
Mango is now in telco and handset makers' hands for testing. Microsoft officials have said Mango will be pushed to existing Windows Phone users this fall and be available on/with new handsets around the same time. Mango includes a number of new features, ranging from the inclusion of an HTML5-compliant IE 9 browser, to third-party multitasking, to Twitter integration.
Update: Here's the word on Microsoft's plans for specific build numbers once Mango is out from Simpkins: "Although we will be marketing the 'Mango' release as 'Windows Phone 7.5', the 7.5 phones (will be running) 'Windows Phone OS 7.1'. While not an ideal pairing, it's similar to how Windows 7 is actually Windows OS version 6.1."
On July 27, Fujitsu-Toshiba announced what are expected to be the first Mango phones. Due out in Japan in "September or beyond," the IS12T is a waterproof handset that will come in yellow, pink and black and include a 13.2 megapixel camera.